Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Guru's PhilaW Hoops Report: Penn's Home Opener Ruined by Binghamton

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – The last ceremonial function attached to the outstanding 2015-16 Penn women’s basketball season occurred shortly before the opening tip between the Quakers and Binghamton Wednesday night when the rafters of the hallowed Palestra gained another banner – this one to mark  a second Ivy title in the last three season and participation in the NCAA tournament.

But when the music stopped, little did the Penn faithful realize that the unveiling was to be the first and last highlight of their evening.

 If one had high expectations for a home-opening win off a respectable showing at Duke Sunday, added to Binghamton’s 0-2 record with weekend losses to Bucknell and Penn’s league rival Yale, added to the absence of the Bearcats’ top defensive player, well the math did not add up.

The thrill of a pair of three-pointers from Kasey Chambers and Lauren Whitlatch around a trey by Binghamton’s Jasmine Sina for a 6-3 lead with 8 minutes, 47 seconds left in the first quarter lasted for just 28 more seconds when Imani Watkins evened things up again for the Bearcats.

Then Watkins’ knifed through a 2-minute 40-second scoring drought by both teams with another trey for a 9-6 advantage and the Bearcats never trailed again on the way to a 61-48 nonconference triumph and their first win.

Penn was left at 0-2 and considering that Friday night’s visit to Rhode Island of the Atlantic 10 is now an approach through uncharted waters, who would believe that next Tuesday night’s Big Five tilt here between the Quakers and Saint Joseph’s might be a battle between two 0-3 squads.

The Hawks landed in that predicament Wednesday night fighting back from a nonconference blowout at Iona in New Rochelle, N.Y. when they trailed by 21 points at the start of the fourth quarter only to squander a chance to go into overtime when Alyssa Monaghan missed a free throw after nailing a 3-pointer with 2.6 left to suffer a 58-57 loss.

We’ll keep the details of all the PhiladelphiaW Hoops squads in action Wednesday night right here, considering it was tough going all-around except for a narrow win in overtime by Delaware and a home win by Penn State over Akron.

As for this game, Penn coach Mike McLaughlin has not had to make concessions speeches of the kind he did after this loss, even in his 2-win initial season at Penn.

“Whatever I did (to deal with three games from Sunday to Friday), didn’t work,” McLaughlin said, “because I thought we were really poor tonight in all facets of the game.

“But before I say anything about that, I want to say they outplayed us from the start to finish, they out-willed us, they came more prepared than we were, the credit goes to Binghamton.

“But for my team, we were poor, we executed poor, we didn’t play hard enough, we didn’t compete at the level we need to compete at and we got what we deserved. We got outworked, we got out-willed. We got the result we should have gotten.”

Penn committed twice as many turnovers, 22-11, as Binghamton leading to the Bearcats gaining a 15-4 advantage in transition points. The visitors also had a 24-18 advantage on points in the paint.

For those looking at the boxscore, the statistics belied the result, even with another double double tandem approach from senior Sydney Stipanovich and junior Michelle Nwokedi with Stipanovich scoring 17 points and grabbing five rebounds while Nowkedi had 14 points and 16 rebounds.

But Binghamton had 16 steals. Watkins finished with a game-high 26 points, shooting 5-of-9 three pointers, while Sina had 17 points and connected on the other four treys produced by the Bearcats offense.

Kai Moon grabbed 10 rebounds.

While this was the first meeting between the two schools, McLaughlin and Binghamton coach Linda Cimino have a Division II history dating to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference wars when he had Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia as a national power and she coached at Caldwell University.

“It was a fun game,” she said. “We were looking forward to competing against Mike because, honestly, he’s one of the best coaches I know, great defensive mind, class act and we have a great relationship.

“Our kids were distraught after losing to Yale (57-48) on Sunday and they came in ready to defend. Right before the game we found our best player and defensive player of the year in the conference wasn’t playing – Alyssa James, so every player on the team decided to step up and play really good defense and get defensive rebounds.

“They did it as a team effort because Alyssa wasn’t playing.”

Binghamton competes in the America East.

The Bearcats also made it a homecoming visit in scheduling the game for Gloucester Catholic grad, Kennedi Thompson, freshman Karlee Krchnavi from Quartown, and Central Bucks West grad Corrine Godshall.

“We have a lot of kids in this area and had a lot of fan support and this is a great venue to play in, an historic venue,” Cimino said. “This is our first nonconference road win in over two years.”

Ironically, Penn and Binghamton could travel out of here together because while the Quakers are at Rhode Island in Kingston, Friday, then Binghamton is over at Providence in Rhode Island Saturday.

Binghamton also has three more Ivy dates, playing Brown, Columbia and Cornell at home.


Iona 58, Saint Joseph’s 57 – The Hawks are now 0-3 finding a variety of ways to suffer with a massive domination by Temple last Friday night at home, squandering a 15-point lead at home Sunday to Bucknell, and now Wednesday night’s tough setback to the host Gaels.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference power led 48-27 at the start of the third period before Saint Joseph’s surged and was poised to tie the score and potentially force overtime when Monaghan nailed a trey and went to the line for a possible four-point play with 2.6 seconds left in regulation.

But she missed the free throw and Alexis Lewis got the rebound but the Hawks report noted the referees seemed to make a delay call on the play only to meet and decide the buzzer beforehand sounded to end the game.

Iona (2-0) got 21 points from Marina Lizarazu while the Hawks Sarah Veilleux had a career-high 14 points, Chelsea Woods scored 12, while Adashia Franklyn had 10 points and 12 rebounds.


Vanderbilt 73, Drexel 63 – The Dragons of the Colonial Athletic Association had a chance to start being known as Power Five killers, having upended the Big Ten’s Penn State Friday night and seemingly on the way Wednesday night to grab a road win over the Commodores of the Southeastern Conference.

But after shaking off a cold third quarter to move to within a point with 2:28 left in the game, Vanderbilt (2-1), which had been routed by Indiana Sunday, launched a 10-1 run over the final 2:28 left to get the win.

The Commodores are under new coach Stephanie White, the former Purdue star and WNBA Indiana Fever coach, who has former coach and broadcaster Carolyn Peck on her staff.

Redshirt junior Rebekah Dahlman was a Dragon slayer handing Drexel (2-1) its first loss by scoring a career-high 25 points for Vandy. Marqu’es Webb grabbed 12 rebounds.

Dahlman shot 15-of-18 free throw attempts while the Dragons as a team barely got to the line, shooting 2-for-3. Coach Denise Dillon’s team did shoot 9 of 35 three pointers.

Sarah Curran collected 19points while Jessica Pellechio scored 18 points in the Dragons’ attack.

Drexel, which hosted the Commodores in Philadelphia a year ago, led by as many as nine points early in the game.

Vanderbilt as a team shot 22 of 29 free throws nd awaits a visit from Duke Sunday while Drexel is off until hosting NCAA runnerup Syracuse at the DAC Monday night.


Penn State 84, Akron 71 – The Lady Lions improved to 2-1 since is road loss at Drexel, beating the Zips in the Bryce Jordan Center as sophomore Teniya Paige scored 23 points. She had five 3-pointers in the first half, the most in the program since Narberth’s Maggie Lucas of the WNBA Indiana Fever had six against Michigan State three seasons ago.

Kaliyah Mitchell had 17 points and 12 rebounds while Lindsey Spann had 21 points.

Hannah Plybon had 22 points for Akron (1-1).

Penn State next hosts Tennessee on Sunday.


Delaware 56, American 55, ovt. – The Blue Hens (2-0) edged the Eagles of the Patriot Legue at Bender Arena in the nation’s capital as Emily Kinneston was defended into having two potential game-winners miss in the final seconds of the extra period.

Sade Chatman, who contested Kinneston on the final shot, had a game-high 17 points. Nicole Enabosi had 14 points and eight rebounds while Hannah Jardine scored 12 against the Eagles (2-1).

Veteran Delaware coach Tina Martin referred the triumph as “gritty,” in saying, “We had some muscles on offense but we good job defensively, especially at the end. This was a great win on the road for us.”

It was the fourth straight win over American and seventh in the last eight in the series.

Next up Saturday is a visit from St. Bonaventure.


Lehigh 91, Delaware State 80 – The Mountain Hawks (2-1) kept their visitor (0-3) winless as Quinci Martin led the way in a morning game at Stabler Arena, scoring 21 points.

Next up is a tilt at home Saturday night hosting Sacred Heart


Robert Morris 62, Lafayette 51 – The Leopards dropped their home opener at Kirby Fieldhouse to fall to 1-2. Niki Stamolamprou had a game-high 22 points for the Colonials (2-1). Sammy Stipe had 13 points for Lafayette, which heads to Louisville, Saturday, first playing Chattanooga in the first weekend of the Hall of Fame tournament. Chattanooga is coached by Jim Foster, who was an assistant to Lafayette’s Theresa Grentz on the 1992 USA Olympic squad.


Nationally Noted: Kelsey Mitchell, one of a wide open field of national player of the year candidates, scored 31 points as Ohio State bounced back from its loss Monday night to South Carolina by beating Cleveland State 96-78.at home in Columbus. … Mississippi State rode a strong first half and 17 points from Victoria Vivians … Caira Washington had a career-high six of George Washington’s 13 blocked shots that helped keep Coppin State (0-3) winless with the Colonials (2-1) coming out on top 77-46 at home in the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington. GWU ruled the boards 59-33 and Washington had 16 points. New coach Jen Rizzotti was able to use her bench liberally to gain experience if needed later on this season. Next stop is a visit to Villanova Sunday 1 p.m. … Dayton (1-1), which visits winless Princeton (0-2) Saturday, topped host Wisconsin 83-64 to keep new coach Jonathan Tsipis, formerly with George Washington, winless at 0-3. Jenna Burnette had 23 points.


Looking ahead: No. 3 UConn hosts No. 2 Baylor Thursday night on campus in Storrs at Gampbell Pavilion with the Huskies putting their 76-game win streak goes on the line again after a narrow escape at Florida State when the number was 75 Monday night. The Guru will be on the scene.

La Salle will be at Rider looking for the Explorer’s first win in three games after dropping the home opener and season opener Friday and then falling down the stretch at Temple Monday night.

Rider is off to a 2-0 start winning at Princeton and hosting Lafayette. A new addition to the Guru file will be on the scene with a Guru intro to you all in the next 24 hours.

Friday, WNBA Washington Mystics assistant coach and former Immaculata star Marianne Stanley gets the Lapchick Character Award along with Philadelphia U. coach Herb Magee and former Fordham men’s coach Johnny Bach.


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